WILMINGTON -- Seven companies submitted bids to build the city of Wilmington's new convention center. The low bidder actually came in $3 million under the city's estimate. However, it's the same company that built New Hanover County's new jail, which ended up over-budget and took nearly a year and a half more than originally scheduled. J.M. Thompson Company won the bid at just over $28 million. City and county leaders say even though there were problems with the jail, there should be no problem building the convention center on time. By law the city has to accept the lowest bid, if the contractor meets the criteria set forth by the city. All seven companies who bid did meet that criteria. New Hanover County Manager Bruce Shell said the problem with the jailhouse construction was more of a management issue, and a disagreement between the contractor and the architect. Those disagreements were eventually settled in mediation. Shell said the overall quality of workmanship on the jail project was good. Regarding the convention center project, the city has already contracted with a company called MBP to manage J.M.Thompson Company's work on the convention center. There could be incentives for completing the convention center ahead of schedule and penalties for getting behind. Wilmington City Council will vote next Tuesday to make the bid on the project official.
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